Friday, September 30, 2011

Silk is for Seduction, by Loretta Chase

Let me start out by saying no betrothals were hurt in the writing of this novel. That said, Loretta Chase has written a gem in Silk is for Seduction.  The first in a series about the Noirot sisters (three women with a past that make convicted felons look good) brings together Marcelline Noirot and Gervaise Angier, 7th Duke of Clevedon in an attempt at seduction, but not the kind we are used to in this genre. What Marcelline wants is Clevedon's future wife. Marcelline and her sisters are modistes. Without a following in the upper reaches of the haut ton, they need an in, and the eldest Noirot travels to Paris to attract the Duke so she can literally make a pitch for his future business. The Duke is enjoying the final year of a swing through the Continent and must return to London to marry Lady Clara Fairfax, sister of his best friend, the Earl of Longmore. And it is that lady that Marcelline really has her eyes on.

What ensues seems to be the  typical boy meets girl plot, but with Marcelline's professional reputation at stake, and her unsuitable background to boot, Clevedon meets with a dead end in his quest to have her for his own. She won't give in and he won't give up, even to the detriment of his relationship with Lady Clara and her brother.

While all of this, on the surface, sounds like Marcelline is a home wrecker of the worst kind, nothing could be further from the truth. For while she does fall in love with Clevedon, she strongly encourages him to marry Clara. Neither her motives nor Clevedon's are honorable to begin with, and that's what makes this such a good love story. I've never read a novel where both protagonists are such driven (and in Clevedon's case, selfish) individuals, like-minded in their drive to get what they want, not realizing that what they want is the same thing. It's a brilliant plot and it works to keep the reader guessing up until the very end of the novel.

Sprinkled with small, hysterical one-liners (you'll know one when you read one),  Silk is for Seduction admirably serves its purpose of entertaining the reader and it sets up the next two books in this series perfectly. I can't wait to see how the girls adjust to the outcome of this story and go on to find loves of their own. And I'm wondering if Lady Clara's brother, the Earl of Longmore is somehow, some way involved.  I'll just throw that out there and see if Ms. Chase takes the hint.

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